Sara Ellen Hartenstine ı Love without Judgment
For those of you who don't know, my grandmother recently passed away. She was almost 97 years old and the most incredibly strong, independent woman I have ever known. She lived alone in a house with stairs until a few years ago, for goodness sakes! She was a trooper. I could not be more proud to be named after her.
A few years ago, before she moved out of her home, I did a photo series on her spirit. At the time, I was working toward my MFA in Photography and Digital Imaging. I was sort of having photographer's block and was struggling a bit. I pushed through and decided the best medicine was visiting my Mom-Mom. After all, there's nothing quite like a grandmother!
When I arrived, it just hit me. I wanted to express my grandmother's spirit through photos - none of which included her. I just felt, and feel, that her home speaks volumes about her and that I'd allow her home to be a "portrait" of her.
I knew she was not going to be in her house much longer and I wanted to preserve her as she was.
My grandmother was an extremely pious woman. She never missed a Sunday service. I'm told that my father, aunts, and uncles had to do Bible study every morning before school, even if that meant he was late to school! It's difficult to find a corner of her home that isn't touched by some sort of religious ornament.
When my dad was young, he touched the freshly painted door frame and then the bathroom door. Boy, was he in trouble when my Mom-Mom and Pop-Pop saw the white handprint on the door! It's quite faded now, but I still remember my grandmother telling me the story and laughing.
There are many great stories that I have heard and amazing memories that I've created in these spaces. While I didnt realize it when I took these photos, this series is almost like a trip down memory lane for me - and for my family.
These figurines were hanging on this cabinet for my entire life. I have no idea where they came from or who put them there! That's just how Mom-Mom's house was. Things appeared and just stuck!
How amazing are these patterns!? I don't think I really appropriately appreciated them until I went through these photos. I love this wallpaper and the couch! The carpet and flooring is so cool and retro, too!
I have a pretty amazing family and I'm thankful for each and every one of them. My grandmother taught us many, many valuable life lessons, but the one most important one, for me, was love without judgment.
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Sara, Katie + the Photos from the Harty team
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